Boise, Idaho natives Erik Bailey and Erik Bill discuss their collaborative VOD project that will be gracing the internet in the next couple of months and explore new ways to approach their city’s limited selection of spots.
It’s not every day that you get to say you have had a three-way with two men called Erik, but that’s exactly what happened earlier this week. Valo pro and Boise, Idaho’s best-known blading export Erik Bailey and close friend and filmmaker Erik Bill took time out of their hectic schedule of filming for Bailey’s forthcoming VOD section to have a chat. They were sitting in a beautiful park with a bunch of friends enjoying a glorious spring day with a nice cold beer and I was sitting in my living room looking out into a cold, damp Scottish evening drinking a Joker IPA. Technically, you could say we were having a drink together across various timezones and continents via the power of FaceTime. Isn’t technology wonderful?
What started off as a discussion about Erik Bailey’s up and coming VOD section soon morphed into a chat about the Valo rider’s blading career to the present day, the ever-depleting rollerblading industry, his thoughts on various VODs, why he finally came round to the idea of skating larger frames and how they actually helped him to utilise spots previously outwith his reach. Erik Bill was also on hand to offer his thoughts and give us an insight into what it has been like filming with Bailey over the years. It would seem like alcohol and sunny days are the way forward in regards to getting as much information out of your interview subjects as possible. We may have to suggest that all bladers we interview in future have a beer in hand and the sun on their face before we commence formal questioning.
Wheel Scene: First things first. Erik Bill, congratulations on Snake River Special 2. It came out great.
Erik Bill: Thanks, dude.
Filming a VOD so soon after that video has been released, have you found it hard to find new things to skate?
Erik Bailey: Every video he has filmed has been here, so every year or so we’ll do another one, and it’s been hard with every one. If you’ve seen We Are Valo, there’s tons of Boise spots in that.
Erik Bill: Valo V…
Erik Bailey: Valo V, there’s a bunch of Boise spots. Heat Video has tons of Boise spots, so it’s more than just the last video. It’s, like…all of them!
Over the years you two must have skated every spot the city has to offer. Are you beginning to run out?
Erik Bailey: Pretty much. There’s a couple that I’ve put on reserve, or haven’t had the guts to do. I mean, you still find new stuff or new ways to skate old things.
Erik Bill: And construction is going on a lot around here.
Erik Bailey: We still find stuff, here and there, but it is very rare and usually it’s nothing too epic. You need to be creative, figure it out.
From the videos you have released, it doesn’t seem like you revisit too many spots. You guys do always seem to find new stuff.
Erik Bill: That’s half the… Of course, I skate really weird shit. That’s probably why I skate weird stuff. It ’s probably a big part of why it’s not just rail, rail, rail, rail because we don’t have shit for rails. It’s kind of cool, a blessing in disguise.
Erik Bailey: It makes you think out of the box a little bit.
How much footage have you collected for the VOD so far?
Erik Bill: I’d say we’re at least a third of the way in.
Erik Bailey: Yeah, maybe working on two minutes…a minute and a half of real good…going into two minutes.
Erik Bill: It’s really different stuff. Some of it is cool shit that you would expect, but some of it is pretty different.
When are you hoping to have it finished?
Erik Bailey: I think we were originally shooting for the end of April, but that is very soon.
Erik Bill: It’s doable, though.
Erik Bailey: And, you know, you can never account for injuries or busts. If we get it all done by then it would be great, but ideally that’s what I’m shooting for. You know how once spring rolls around you get that new motivation? You’re just a little more hyped. I’m trying to use that spring air to keep the motivation up.
Is winter rough in Idaho?
Erik Bailey: It was pretty rough this year. We get snow on the ground for a bit and then it gets overcast for about two or three months. You get low cloud cover, constant fog, shitty air. It’s just gloomy, cloudy and cold every fucking day.
That just sounds like Scotland!
Erik Bailey: Yeah. It’s like, as you get old, that shit hurts your bones a little more. You have to wait for that sun to come out.
Are you guys both working at the moment? What other commitments do you have?
Erik Bill: I work full-time and I’m skating for a couple of people’s things right now – I’m sure he probably is too.
Erik Bailey: I was working full-time. I recently quit, so I’m a little more free right now, but I do have a lot of stuff going on. I’m moving…
Erik Bill: Odd jobs as well, right?
Erik Bailey: Some odd jobs, here and there.
What were you working as before you quit?
Erik Bailey: I was doing hardwood floors, refinishing, hardwood carpentry, odds and ends…just random bullshit!
I have always wondered why you moved back to Boise because you were living in San Francisco for a while. When did you move back home?
Erik Bailey: Oh…five years ago. I was seeing a girl at the time and she was living here…and San Francisco’s very expensive, so it just seemed like it was the time to go. The crew was breaking up, Patrick Lennon was skating a lot less. My friends were moving out. Jon (Julio), who was in San Francisco at the time with Themgoods and everything, he decided to go down south to Santa Ana. Plus I was travelling a lot of the time and not even enjoying the place where I was living.
Who were you living with in San Francisco?
I was living with Patrick Lennon at first, Aaron Moyal and Nick Whitmore, Aaron was a blader at one point, Ninos Con Bambas, the VG era. He did all that stuff for the NCB guys back in Portland. Nick Whitmore was a great skater from New Hampshire, one of my good friends, who was living in Boise… I moved out, Kevin Yee moved in, took my spot, and we parted ways.
How long have you two known each other?
Erik Bill: Pretty much forever.
Erik Bailey: I’ve known Erik since I was…
Erik Bill: Right when i started skating.
Erik Bailey: I was maybe 16, I think.
Erik Bill: I’d say about ’99.
Can you remember how you met?
Erik Bailey: Skating Centennial, I believe.
Erik Bill: Yeah.
Erik Bailey: I guess we’re both on the same page.
Erik Bill: There was a school that was across the street from my mom’s house that has so many good ledges, and I’ve always liked ledges, so I was at that school every single night. Then one night Erik was there and I was like, “Damn, he’s doing more than stepping on to souls.” Because I was paving the way for my friends and we all just sucked, so it was cool to see someone that was good. I think he had USDs at the time.
Erik Bailey: I was on USDs when I met you, which is funny because that was like my second wave…. Because before that I used to ride Roces. I was a full sponsored paid amateur travelling.
Is that when you were travelling to Europe to skate at IISS and things like that?
Erik Bailey: Yeah, in Birmingham. I think I was like 14 then.
“I got the Big frames and big wheels riding flat, so suddenly I can ride shitty ground and horrible ditches that I’ve been looking at forever.”
It’s crazy because that was so long ago, the end of the ‘90s, and most people only remember you as far back as your Rejects section.
Erik Bailey: Yeah, which is strange. That was like the second coming of me, in a way. People knew me as this contest skater because I was flown out to these places…
Erik Bill: A clip in Transcend…a sweaty.
Erik Bailey: Transcend, for example, I was riding Roces in that, Fifth Elements, in the intro. I think it’s one of the first few clips in it.
Erik, what have you discovered about Bailey in all your years of filming him?
Erik Bill: Fuck… There’s an extensive list, but none of them are really bad.
Erik Bailey: It’s Boise though! I feel like I know what he’s going to say.
Erik Bill: Of course, I haven’t been able to travel and skate a fraction of what he’s been able to, so the spots that I’m like, “This is kind of cool.” He’s like, “This spot fucking sucks.” Because he’s seen the spot somewhere else in a way grander scale. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just I skate shitty stuff and he doesn’t!
Erik Bailey: It’s picturing yourself skating these obstacles and I just don’t picture myself on certain things. I guess i have my own vision of skating and it’s worked out for me so far, so why stray from it?
Erik Bill: That’s true. I guess I’m kind of on the same page as him. We were going to skate today, so we’re like, “We should get a beer first.” Then we met some people…
Erik Bailey: We waited at a spot for people to leave and then it just seemed weird…
Erik Bill: So then we just decided to come and have a beer at the park. However, we got a couple of clips yesterday, out in the middle of nowhere, and we got some the day before.
Erik Bailey: What’s cool recently is that I’ve been looking at some of these spots in a different way. I got the Big frames and big wheels riding flat, so suddenly I can ride shitty ground and horrible ditches that I’ve been looking at forever but i just couldn’t fucking skate. If you fall on them you’re toast, but you can actually roll on them now with these big, soft wheels. It’s kind of broadened my horizons a little bit.
Erik Bill: Definitely been to some spots that we’ve never skated but we wanted to.
So the Ground Control Big frames have opened up new spots for you?
Erik Bailey: Yeah.
The only thing that puts me off with the larger frame/wheel concept is, yes, you can skate rougher terrain, but it doesn’t make it any more enjoyable. It’s still bumpy as hell.
Erik Bailey: Oh, totally! But it’s also making do with what you’ve got. There’s these spots that I would go to, I’d seen them, but I didn’t really know if I could do anything on them. I’d put on my skates and i’d be like, “Fuck, this just sucks.” But I went back to them with these frames and wheels and it was actually a little more doable. It’s kind of what you have to do to get clips in this town.
Erik Bill: You’ve got to evolve.
Erik Bailey: I was the last person to evolve. I thought I might even rec skate on them, I don’t know.
Erik Bill: We went to a biker dirt bank to ledge and it’s skate-able now. We can actually skate a BMX spot with rollerblades and get a clip.
Well, it’s got to be a good thing in that sense. It creates more options.
Erik Bill: I mean, I probably wouldn’t film a full section in grass and dirt and stuff, but when it’s a mix… Plus, he can still alley-oop topsoul a ledge with the Bigs that have flat 72s or whatever. I feel like that hasn’t really been tapped into as much as it could be.
Yeah, that’s what bothers me about it. When “powerblading” was first marketed to us it was an improvement on street skating rather than an alternative, which I don’t believe it is.
Erik Bailey: By no means is it an improvement.
Having bigger wheels is good for speed and rough terrain, but it compromises other things. A lot of the people using these frames look sketchy and you don’t really see the benefit of big frames. For example, all the tricks in the Ground Control Big edit could have been done with smaller frames and wheels, so what’s the point?
Erik Bill: That’s exactly right.
Erik Bailey: I think some of the stuff we’ve been doing with them is pretty obvious you couldn’t do it with regular frames. You might have to slow the clips down or press pause to notice how fucking horrible the ground is. i definitely couldn’t have skated some of those spots with other frames.
Have you guys watched many of the VODs that have been released so far?
Erik Bailey: Oh, yeah.
Erik Bill: I think, between the both of us, we have bought pretty much all of them.
Which ones have stood out so far?
Erik Bailey: I liked the Brosky New York, the Bolino Vibralux was great, the Haffey one was excellent.
Erik Bill: Some of the Kelso stuff.
Erik Bailey: That whole video… All the Kelso stuff that he’s put out was great.
So you liked KCMO and 18 Plus?
Erik Bailey: Yeah, I do like them both. I mean, you’ve got to appreciate them both for everything. I enjoyed them. I enjoyed KCMO more, if I had to pick one, but I enjoyed them both.
I did feel lied to based on how it was advertised.
Erik Bill: Dustin Halleran….he had one clip.
Exactly! Sizemore only had one clip, Broskow had a clip at the end, and both skaters were named in the poster like they had sections, so it was very misleading.
Erik Bailey: Yeah, I agree.
Erik Bill: I thought it was so worth the money that I spent, but I do agree. I was like, “Shit, yeah! A bunch of new Cheshire footage? Cool. Halleran? Wow, Cool.”
Did Cheshire even have a clip in 18 Plus? I thought Sean just used his music.
Erik Bill: He did the whole soundtrack and I think he had a clip. I know Halleran had that one clip, and it was actually really cool, but it said “featuring Dustin Halleran”, so I thought…
That would be like if you released Snake River Special 3 advertising an Erik Bailey section and he only had two clips. People would be like, “What the fuck is this?!”
Erik Bill: Or if I advertised a lot of Casey Bagozzi, but he was just in the montage.
Erik Bailey: Typically you advertise someone when they have a part.
To put you on the spot, what sets this VOD apart from your Snake River Special 2 section?
Erik Bailey: It’s a lot of the same town, but I think I am aware of how to make it different. I use the Big frames in some of the spots… I’m getting older so there’s a lot of spots I put off over the years, which are…
Erik Bill: Pretty big.
Erik Bailey: ..pretty tough.
Erik Bill: I just got a new camera. It’s tiny but it’s as powerful as can be.
Erik Bailey: Yeah, the film quality and stuff.
“It’s all a labour of love, at this point, for everyone.”
What are your plans for after the VOD? Erik Bill, I am guessing you have another project you’ve started working on. Bailey, are you filming for a new Valo video?
Erik Bailey: Currently, at the time, not really filming for a new Valo video just because I’m here and, as we all know, the industry is in a little rough spot. it’s hard to have the means to get the whole team out to travel, but I’m hoping to get one going soon or start one.
Erik Bill: I’ll be filming a part with him for Snake River Special 3, I guess, it’s going to be. Geoff Phillip is making a video and I’m having a part in that. Cameron Card is doing something and he wanted me to get some clips for it. Now that it’s nice out, I’ll be putting out little park edits, here and there.
You mentioned Geoff Phillip. Is there ever gonna be a chance of him getting on Valo?
Erik Bill: He just got his first pair of free skates ever…and they were Valos.
Erik Bailey: Ideally, we would like to get him on. Everyone seems to think there’s a lot of money in the industry right now. Everyone’s struggling right now. We would like to get him product and a budget, but it’s very fucking hard. There are people who have been in line a long time, like Dean Coward. You’ve got Labarre, all those boys, it’s just tough.
I can empathise with that. A lot of people think these companies have more money than they do.
Erik Bailey: Professional rollerblading is basically non-existent…give or take a couple of people.
Erik Bill: Luckily Geoff…he doesn’t expect anything. He’s a had a few opportunities but he really likes what he likes. Xsjado sent him a pair of skates, he gave it a chance and he just couldn’t really do it. So he sent them back, said, “Thanks for the opportunity”, and got on his busted old Valos. He’ll make do.
Erik Bailey: It’s all a labour of love, at this point, for everyone.
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